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Solar-Based ICT in a Shipping Container

The Pacific Island Schools Connectivity, Education, and Solar (PISCES) Project has installed a Solar-in-a-Box kit as a computer lab at a primary school on the island of Udot in the Federated States of Micronesia. The installation illustrates several ways in which Green ICT technologies and practices can deliver ICT to remote areas. (We've updated this post with a note about the second phase of PISCES.)

The shipping container based unit "is made up of three main components: the solar panels and electronics, the power-efficient laptops, and the container which converts into a lab table…The solar panels used are small enough to fit in our shipping container, yet deliver enough power to simultaneously run the entire workstation and charge the laptops’ batteries…The laptops…are Intel Classmates, which are specifically designed for educational environments but feature a powerful operating system which makes them versatile machines. The laptops require very little electricity yet deliver a substantial amount of processing power, making them suitable for solar deployments." The Solar-in-a-Box kit was designed and deployed in cooperation with the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Connectivity was achieved via solar-powered, long-distance WiFi from a neighboring island. The solar WiFi is a PISCES project in collaboration with he University of Guam.

PISCES reports, "Other systems run off of heavy, hazardous lead-acid batteries which also require regular maintenance. The Solar-in-a-Box kit uses the lithium-ion batteries within the laptops as the only source of storage. There is no compromise in usage time, though, due to the power-frugal laptops which are charged while they are simultaneously in use. By the time that the solar panels are no longer producing energy, the laptops are charged sufficiently to run for many more hours."

Inveneo provides a detailed update on extending the PISCES project's "solar-powered computing infrastructure" to additional locations.

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Photo courtesy PISCES